This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Alpine Space programme

This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Alpine Space programme


“Meadows Matter” – An online toolkit to grasp the concept of ecosystem services

As the term ecosystem servicescomprises a complex understanding of how particular ecosystem factors are related to each other, how they interact and influence each other and how they are influenced through human activities, a tool kit (‘Meadows Matter’) was developed in the context of the project VITALin order to help students to grasp this complexity. As the VITAL Project focuses on grasslands, the tool kit addresses topics such as:

  • diversity of grassland plants and soil organisms,
  • nutrient cycles within grasslands,
  • influence of land use on grassland properties and
  • ability of grasslands to fulfill ecosystem services.

‘Meadows Matter’ is designed for high school students (15 to 19 years) but learning activities described may be easily adapted to adult learners needs. The tool kit is structured in five modules.Each module consists of various learning activities and can be used individually to teach a particular sub-concept.

Module 1 (‘Same, same but different’) attentions on similarities and differences among various grassland types, especially differences in plant diversity, focusing on intensively and extensively used meadows.

Module 2 (‘Eating the green’) illustrates the interdependence of organisms regarding on food chains.

Module 3 (‘Digging deep’) elaborates some basics on soil ecology, including soil formation, soil types as well as soil organisms and their contribution to ecosystem services.

Module 4 (‘Cycling cycles’) refreshes knowledge about the carbon, the nitrogen and the water cycle while simultaneously linking those cycles with organisms above- and belowground.

Module 5 (‘The whole concept’) synthesises acquired knowledge obtained from previous modules to the concept of ecosystem services.

In designing the modules the main goal was to offer students opportunities to ‘experience’ sub-concepts within every module by using varied learning activities, building on students’ already existing knowledge. To encourage students learning, concept mapsareusedasacentral element.

This work was supported by FWF through the FP6 BiodivERsA Eranet VITAL project and is part of a MasterThesis at University of Innsbruck, Institute of Ecology by Sarah Kerle (


If you would like to use our free downloadable teaching resources please contact Also consider the following licences:

wiki/meadows_matter.txt · 2017/06/30 12:12 c71737